Brigada Eskwela: Building resilient schools

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Saturday, May 24, 2014


DESPITE the scorching heat of summer, thousands of school officials, parents, students; town, city and barangay officials; military and police personnel; and volunteers either as private citizens or from private organizations, participated in the 11th year of Brigada Eskwela this week from May 19 to 24.

Started in 2003, the Brigada Eskwela, or the National Schools Maintenance Week, is aimed at preparing all public elementary and high schools around the country before the classes start in June.

Highlighting the spirit of volunteerism, Brigada Eskwela brings together education stakeholders to voluntarily clean and repair schools in time for enrolment the following week and the start of classes on June 2.

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Learning from the experience of super typhoon Yolanda which devastated the Visayas in November last year, Education secretary Armin Luistro ordered school officials to make Brigada focus on “making schools disaster-ready.”

He stressed that Brigada should be more on “developing disaster-resilient school communities… to ease the schools’ vulnerability to both natural and man-made disasters.”

In the Division of Negros Occidental, which covers 19 towns and four cities, schools superintendent Juliet Jeruta noted a more active participation of the community. There were even schools with medical missions, she added.

Jeruta acknowledged the assistance of the Philippine National Police and the engineering brigade of the Philippine Army for conducting plumbing activities and repairing the septic tanks of schools. She also thanked the Philippine Institute of Civil Engineers for the assistance of its members.

Vice Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson joined the Brigada Eskwela in Florentino Galang Sr. National High School in Brgy. Camingawan Kabankalan City.

In the Bacolod City Division, schools superintendent Gemma Ledesma said city officials including Vice Mayor Greg Gasataya, Councilor Sonya Verdeflor and Councilor El Cid Familiaran also joined the Brigada.

Bayanihan

The annual Brigada Eskwela is a show of “bayanihan spirit,” according to Riza Lacson, wife of E. B. Magalona Mayor David Albert Lacson.

Mrs. Lacson joined the Brigada at E. B. Magalona National High School, where she turned over 7,000 notebooks to school principal Romualdo Batallones, to be given to students on June 2.

It was really a revival of the ‘bayanihan’ spirit that we Filipinos are known for, Mrs. Lacson said in her speech.

“Seeing the parents and students, including private individuals and town officials trooping together in a school campus for one purpose – to do the cleanup -- is a classic picture of community cooperation,” she added.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on May 24, 2014.

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